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Afghan Forces Target Taliban in Kabul in Latest Bout of Unrest

Afghan security forces engaged in a firefight with Taliban fighters in the capital city of Kabul Wednesday, blowing up a home and reportedly killing two militants and a woman and child inside. Two analysts assess the security situation in Afghanistan.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Next, an update on the war in Afghanistan, more terrorist attacks, more American troops. We start with some background narrated by Spencer Michels.

  • SPENCER MICHELS, NewsHour Correspondent:

    Today's raid in western Kabul was yet another reminder of the Afghan government's challenge to halt the spiraling violence in that country.

    The targets were militants accused of plotting the failed assassination attempt on Afghan President Hamid Karzai at a military parade this weekend.

    President Karzai narrowly escaped harm, but three other people, including a legislator, were killed. This morning's fight lasted several hours and forced residents to flee.

  • ABDUL RASOOL, Afghan Citizen (through translator):

    We're evacuating from here to move the children to a safe place. It is dangerous to be here.

  • SPENCER MICHELS:

    Ten hours later, government forces blew up the house where the two reported suspects had barricaded themselves. They were killed, along with a woman and a child.

    Afghanistan's security chief briefed reporters.

  • AMRULLAH SALEH, Chief, Afghanistan Intelligence Services (through translator):

    We had to destroy the compounds completely, according to the intelligence from the neighbors, and their faces show that two of them were not Afghans. They were foreigners, and probably one of them is an Afghan.

  • SPENCER MICHELS:

    He added there was evidence militants involved in Sunday's plot were in contact with guerrilla groups who have taken refuge in tribal areas in Pakistan.

    Sunday's attack was among the latest by Taliban and al-Qaida guerrillas in Afghanistan. Yesterday, 18 were killed in a suicide bombing in eastern Afghanistan; 36 more were wounded. Two weeks ago, a dozen police officers were killed after Taliban militants opened fire on their outpost.

    According to an Associated Press tally, more than 1,000 people have died in insurgent-related violence so far this year, most of them militants.

    More than 60,000 coalition troops, about half of them Americans, are now deployed in the Afghan war, the latest, a contingent of more than 3,000 U.S. Marines fighting in the south.

    President Bush has firmly defended the progress in Afghanistan, as he did again yesterday in this tense exchange with a White House reporter.

  • JOURNALIST:

    Do you think we're winning? Do you think we're winning?

    GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States: I do. I think we're making good progress. I do, yes.

  • JOURNALIST:

    Can I just add to that? A couple of weeks ago…

  • GEORGE W. BUSH:

    No, you can't. This is the second follow-up. You usually get one follow-up. I was nice enough to give you one.

    And so, yes, I mean, look, is it tough? Yes, it's tough. Is it difficult? Absolutely. Is it worth the fight? In my judgment, yes, it is.

  • SPENCER MICHELS:

    The State Department report out today, which only goes up to 2007, found terrorist attacks were up 16 percent compared to the year before.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Margaret Warner takes the story from there.

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